Handling Objections in Property Development
I just wanted to address the question regarding handling objections when you get them. Usually, when you’ve got an objection or if it’s just one objection it is always better that you try and handle it at your end and approach the objector directly. I’ll tell you the reason why. Yes, everything is good unless the council says, alright you need to provide shadow diagrams or you need to provide some screens to tackle privacy or whatever changes that the council would ask you to make so that that objection can be handled. That’s fine.
If the council decides to brush them off, they can brush them off, no problem. In Victoria, the council will issue you with what is called a notice of decision or NOD.
Everything is fine so far, but don’t forget that even when you’ve got the NOD or the notice of decision there is a 21-day cooling off period before your notice of decision actually becomes a permit. In those 21 days if that one objector is nasty they can go and lodge a claim with VCAT and delay your permit until a VCAT hearing. That is, it will not become a permit after the cooling off period.
You will have a VCAT hearing if you’re from Victoria. Just be wary of that. Even if the council decides to brush it off, I would … If I was doing this development, make contact with the objector and try and appease them and try and handle their objection. If I have to do shadow diagrams and spend a little bit extra to do the shadow diagrams and go and show them that there are no shadows affecting their property – I would do that.
What I am really trying to do is show them, that their concern won’t be a big enough reason for them to take you to VCAT. They are perhaps doing this because, they can. Once you go to VCAT, there’s a three month wait before you’ll get a hearing and when you get a hearing it will of course come in your favour, but what will end up happening is that it will delay your development. It will increase your holding costs and it will cause all sorts of grief to you as a developer. If I was that person and there was one objection I would have a meeting with that objector to appease him.
If the objector says look, show me the shadow diagrams, that’s when I’ll go and get the shadow diagrams to try and appease him so that he knows or she knows that even if they did go to VCAT, it will cost them money and they won’t win anyway. That way, it will save you those three months.
Be careful with these objections and I’m saying this from my own experience because I’ve just gone through it recently. I’ve gone through the same experience with my 16 apartment development when we were getting the permit. We had 18 objections.
We had a council consult meetings and in those meetings we tried to address all those objections as much as we could. We had the shadow diagrams done. We had everything that we could do to appease them. There were some issues about noise because we were going to put car stackers. We got a noise report so that we could show them that the noise wasn’t anymore than what a normal air conditioner would make. Those are the things that I would suggest anybody, if you’ve got one or two objections it’s always better to go and see those objectors before you’ve got that permit because they’ve got 21 days to lodge an objection, again, in VCAT and take you to VCAT.
It doesn’t matter whether they win or they lose. Even if you know and your consultants tell you that everything is fine. You’ll win and come out on top. The problem is that you will lose three, four months and everything will get delayed. In those three, four months you may start your working drawings. You may not start your working drawings. All these things will get delayed but you certainly won’t be able to start marketing them because you haven’t got a permit yet.
This is my feedback on handling objections. And if you would like to learn more about property development, I run a property development seminar and a property development course that you can undertake.